Marlene and her husband Joseph are on their way toward social and economic independence. They are parents to four children and live in Madame Combe, a community surrounding our ESPWA campus. Neither finished school as children, nor can either ]read or write. Nonetheless, they’ve worked hard and done their best to provide a good education for their children. These parents are passionate about their kids breaking through the family’s cycle of generational poverty.
To say their situation was critical before the earthquake is an understatement. As with most Haitian families, Marlene and Joseph live a daily fight to survive and feed their children. Joseph is a farmer, but his plot of land to farm is very small. He’s unable to produce enough crop to feed his entire family and he barely makes 4,000 gourdes per month (approx. $40 USD). Marlene sells food supplies that generate an income of 1,500 gourdes per month ($13 USD). Their combined income simply isn’t enough to provide food, tuition and school supplies for their children. Then add a devastating earthquake to the mix. Their home was completely destroyed last August and they fled to our ESPWA campus for emergency shelter.
Because we prioritize the most vulnerable families (those with young children), our team intervened immediately and has since taken the necessary steps to provide this family with a new home. As a requirement of Overture International, all families we support with a new home must participate in the building process. This approach empowers families to take ownership and gives them dignity in knowing they played a part in such a great achievement. Marlene and Joseph dug the entire foundation for their new home after which Overture provided the materials and local crew members to complete construction on the new home. Today, this family is living in a safe, disaster-resilient home.
Marlene explains her joy: “Our situation was so desperate after the earthquake. When we heard that Overture was helping us with a new home, we couldn’t believe it. So often organizations come to Haiti and make promises they don’t fulfill. It didn’t take long for us to realize that Overture was serious, and once we did, we put everything into helping with our new home. We provided the land, we dug the foundation, we prepared the road for the trucks to deliver materials and we cooked for the building team. This house means so much to us. We have a decent place to sleep peacefully and comfortably, we can receive family when they visit and our kids are proud to show their friends their new home.”
Helping Marlene and Joseph build a new home is only the first step in our commitment to helping this family reach independence and self-sufficiency. We will continue to support them with social support, counseling and business training.